Projects & Improvements

Before and After: 3 Budget-Friendly Projects Give This Gray Kitchen Some Much-Needed Pep

published Feb 8, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
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Rental Friendly
Before: Contemporary kitchen with gray walls

A lot of times (unless you custom-build your abode yourself and get to determine the colors before it’s finalized), newer homes don’t come with a ton of color. They’re designed to be timeless, neutral, and palatable to many people — but who says colors aren’t palatable? Here are 43 colorful homes to inspire you, and 101 ways to add color to your home whether you rent or own.

Homeowner Alexandra Nagy’s (@alexandra2023) kitchen was very nice when she first moved in — with new appliances, new cabinetry, a subway tile backsplash, contemporary cabinet pulls, and a sleek-looking sink — but it was very, very gray. The only other color featured? White.

“I’m always thinking about ways to make my house more personalized, unique, and colorful,” Alexandra says.

Her first idea for color-fying her kitchen was to paint the walls pink (Sherwin-Williams’ Romantic Mauve). “I have really loved the color pink for a while, and my friends could all tell you that it’s my favorite color,” Alexandra says. “The pink color felt like I’d really be putting my own personality into my house and my kitchen.” 

At first, she thought about painting her cabinets pink because she’d seen some great examples of this, but because they were brand-new cabinets, Alexandra wasn’t ready to alter them just yet. “I thought about what it could look like to paint the walls instead,” she says. “I knew it might be considered kind of a bold choice, but I’m so glad I did it because it makes the place really feel like my own, and a true reflection of my style.”

Alexandra completed her pink paint project about a year ago (and she’s still very much in love, she says), and since then, she’s found some other sneaky spots to add color. Under her bar, which was once a blank white canvas, she added a tropical green and pink peel-and-stick wallpaper, which is available from World Market for about $40.

And most recently, she took peel-and-stick color and pattern to her fridge in a $115 project. “This was a very quick DIY,” Alexandra says. “The hardest part was picking out which wallpaper I wanted to use, and I also had to put some thought into how to transform the handles —and figure out how to remove them.”

It turns out, it was super easy to remove the handles, and Alexandra went with a gold foil tape over top of the handles because she didn’t want to paint them in case she decides to reverse her changes someday.

Alex’s advice for peel-and-sticking? It doesn’t take long to apply the wallpaper, but it does take an hour or two to smooth out air bubbles, she says. “I highly recommend this DIY to anyone looking to make a big impact on a space without having to spend a lot of time or money!” she adds.

And she’s totally thrilled with her color-infused, pattern-mixing kitchen. “I’m really proud of how cohesive it all looks as well as how I was able to complete it all on my own (even though the wallpaper instructions recommend having two people apply it),” she says.

Her advice for those wanting to spruce up their own place with color? Absolutely do it. “It’s your place, so make it yours,” Alexandra says. “People might think it’s silly to have a pink kitchen and pink fridge, but if you love it, that’s all that matters.”